Bathroom Faucet Won’t Turn Off: Here’s A Quick Fix

Issues with water can escalate quickly so if your bathroom faucet won’t turn all the way off don’t ignore it. When there is a problem with the faucet, it doesn’t matter how many times you turn it or push it, it isn’t going to start working again unless you repair it. This guide will help you fix your faucet quickly so you can turn the water off and continue with your day.

If the bathtub faucet won’t turn off, the first thing to do is turn off the water supply to the bathroom or your home. This allows you to find out what the problem is and fix it without dealing with an overflow of water. 

4 Reasons Why Bathtub Faucet Won’t Stop Running 

If the handle is in the off position and the bathroom faucet continues to run it means there is a part inside the faucet that has become worn or damaged. Below are the top 4 causes:

Loose Faucet Handle

The issue could simply be that the screws of the faucet handle have become loose and need tightening. 

Damaged Faucet Handle

A damaged faucet handle will no longer be able to grip the stem. This means water will be able to continue flowing even if the handle is in the off position. In this case, replace the handle with a new one. The type of faucet will impact how easy/difficult it is to fix the problem.

Damaged Faucet Stem

The other problem could be the faucet stem. Worn stem ridges means there is nothing for the faucet to connect to and the water will continue to flow.  

Broken Valve

The problem may be the valves as these are responsible for controlling the water flow. Replace worn valves to fix the problem.

4 Tips To Follow Before Fixing A Tub Faucet

Don’t panic, a running faucet can be fixed relatively quickly and easily. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare to fix the issue:

1. Identify and Fix the Problem As Soon As Possible

When you first notice the faucet isn’t stopping the water, fix the problem. It may only start with a drip or a small stream of water but don’t ignore it as the problem is only going to get worse. On top of that, even a small drip is going to add up to a lot of wasted water. 

2. Turn Off the Water Supply

Before you do anything else, turn off the water supply to the bathtub or bathroom. You may need to turn off the water supply to the whole house depending on the stop valves in your home. Some faucets have a stop valve built in that you can turn using a screwdriver, or there may be a water stop valve under the sink or in the basement. 

3. Cover the Drain

When you are investigating and fixing the problem, cover the drain with a cloth. This is a simple trick but it will prevent you from losing screws and other items down the drain. 

4. Call A Plumber If Needed

If you have tried fixing the problem but the faucet is continuing to drip, call a plumber to get the issue looked at. We’ve listed the most common problems that you can solve yourself. If these quick fixes don’t solve the issue it is likely caused by something that needs the attention of a plumber. 

How To Fix A Bathtub Faucet That Won’t Turn Off

As there are different causes of this issue, the solution will depend on the cause:

Problem: Loose Faucet Handle

Step 1. Turn Off the Water

To prevent further issues, turn the water off to the bathtub. Even though you can tighten the faucet handle with the water on, it’s better to be safe than to have a flooding bathroom.  

Step 2. Remove the Cover Plate

If the handle screws are not visible, they will be underneath the cover plate. Simply pop the cover plate off for access to the screws. 

Step 3. Tighten the screws

Take a screwdriver and tighten the screws so the handle is securely attached. Then reposition the cover plate. 

Step 4. Test 

Sometimes, that is all it takes to fix the problem. Tightening the handle makes sure it is able to grip the stem as needed. 

Problem: Damaged Faucet Handle

Step 1. Turn Off the Water 

Firstly, locate the water stop valve and turn it off. Always test the faucet to make sure the water is completely turned off before starting. Trying to fix the faucet while the water is on can lead to much bigger problems so don’t skip this step. Secondly, place a cloth over the drain to prevent losing any important parts of the faucet. Losing parts down the drain is hugely frustrating and can set you back when it comes to reassembling the faucet.

Step 2. Remove the Handle

Use a screwdriver to remove the small screws that hold the faucet handle in position. These screws may be hidden by a cover plate. Remove the handle and examine it closely for signs of wear or damage. 

Step 3. Replace Any Broken Parts

If you notice cracks or damage to the handle, replace it with a new part. Also, look at the condition of the other components such as any rubber washers and O-rings. Once you have replaced any parts in poor condition, reassemble the faucet. When you reposition the faucet, tighten the screws securely. 

Step 4. Test the Water

Now you can turn the water back on and see if the leaking has stopped. 

Problem: Damaged Faucet Stem 

Step 1. Turn Off the Water

A damaged faucet stem requires the handle to be removed so turn the water off before you start. Don’t forget to cover the drain with a cloth too. 

Step 2. Remove the Faucet Handle

Secondly, remove the faucet handle by unscrewing it and put it to one side. 

Step 3. Examine the Stem

Examine the stem for any issues. The key things to look at are the ridges and the O-ring. If the ridges on the stem are worn down then a replacement is needed. A worn stem means the faucet handle cannot tighten around it as it should. It is possible to temporarily fix the stem using thread seal tape but this fix will only last a few months. It’s best to replace the stem as this is easy to do and offers a long term solution. If the O-ring is worn, simply replace it with a new one.

Step 4. Reattach the Handle

Once the stem has been repaired or replaced and put back into position, reattach the handle to the faucet. 

Step 5. Test

Now you can turn the water back on and see if the faucet has stopped leaking. 

Problem: Broken Valves

Step 1. Turn Off the Water

As always, turn the water valve off first so you can safely detach the faucet and work on the system. As you will be removing the valves of the bathtub faucet, the water will need to be off to the whole bathroom or the whole house for this job. Cover the drain so no screws get lost. 

Step 2. Take the Faucet Apart

Next, remove the faucet handle and the stem so you can reach the deeper components of the system.

Step 3. Locate the Valves 

With the handle and stem now removed, you should be able to see the valves. The valves go behind the wall so if you are unable to reach them you may need to call a professional. If you can see the valves, examine them to check for damage. 

Step 4. Use A Wrench To Remove the Valves

The valves can become corroded and worn as a result of a build-up of water sediment. Use a wrench to remove the worn valves.

Step 5. Replace Them With New Valves

With the old valves out of the way, install new ones in their place. The valves are responsible for controlling the flow of water so if the old ones were not in good condition, replacing them should stop the leak.

Step 6. Reassemble the Faucet

You can now put the faucet back together, making sure each part is securely placed in the right position. Once the faucet is reassembled, you can turn the water back on. 

Related Questions 

Below we have answered common questions about dealing with plumbing-related issues at home:

Where is the water cutoff valve for the bathtub?

Some bathtub faucets have stop valves inside the faucet, turn these valves off using a large screwdriver. The valve could also be under the sink or in the basement. The main shutoff is located either near the water meter or in the yard near where the main water line forks off towards your home. 

Can you change a faucet without turning off the water? 

Although it’s possible, it is not recommended due to the build-up of water pressure. It is easier, safer and more efficient to turn the water off before changing a faucet. 

How long does it take for water to stop after turning off main valve?

It will take a couple of minutes for the water to stop completely. If water continues to flow it is a sign the valve isn’t closed all the way or there is a leak that requires a plumber.

Is there a shut off valve for shower? 

Many showers have a shut off valve integrated into the faucet. If you remove the face panel of the faucet you should see the valve. Use a screwdriver to turn the valve off. Not all showers have their own valve so you may need to shut off the mains water line when carrying out plumbing work. 

Should you leave the hot water running?

Yes, turning the hot water on and off usually creates more problems than benefits. Turning the hot water off doesn’t save significant energy and once you need hot water again you may find it difficult to get the unit up and running. In addition to this, it will take anything from 20 – 60 minutes until hot water is ready for use. 

Next Steps

Don’t ignore a leaking faucet, even if the leak is only a drip at the moment. You can fix the problem yourself but, unless it is simply a loose handle that needs tightening, you are going to need replacement parts. Replacing worn, damaged, or broken parts should solve the problem. If the faucet still leaks, the issue is something deeper and it is best to call a plumber to identify and fix the cause of the problem.

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